Everyone has their own idea of what makes a perfect gift to give to the ones they love, but here are some suggestions of those gifts and where to get them.
If you are taking the Travelience tour of Asakusa (or other locations offered), then you can grab some of the more traditional gifts there, however watch out what you buy and make sure you can actually get it home, some things are very fragile. The center row from the main gate to the temple is filled with many small shops each offering many of the same items, but some have one of a kind items so keep your eyes peeled. Use the JR Yamanote line to Ueno and then switch to the Tokyo Metro Ginza line. If you are using your JR rail pass, you will need to buy a separate ticket to ride on the metro.
The next place to buy some gifts and also worthwhile spending time going in and out of the shop is Akihabara (Akiba). Akihabara is considered to some electric town, but now you can find just about everything under the sun there. Gifts for your conservative friend, gifts for your more liberal friend, and tons of gifts for the person you know is an undercover lover of anime. Some of the larger shops offer duty free (no tax) shopping, so take advantage of that if you can. If your friends are fans of Gundam, they have a Gundam café there and you can pick up some great items as well. You can use the Yamanote line or Sobu line of the JR train system and exit at Akihabara station.
HARAJUKU and OMOTESANDO
Moving to the other side of the Yamanote line, I suggest you hit up Harajuku and Omotesando. In these two areas are some of the best small boutiques that Tokyo has to offer. From rare Nike shoes to small hand made items, I guarantee you can find something to satisfy even your pickiest friend. The area might seem a little tricky to navigate, so I highly suggest mapping it out before you go unless you have all day to shop. Use the Yamanote line of the JR train system and exit Harajuku station.
Moving on from Harajuku but in the same area is Shibuya. Shibuya is a rather large station, and actually you could never leave the station and still walk away with some awesome gifts. Tokyu department store is the name of the main section, but across the street you will find Shibuya 109, which is a number representation of Tokyu (to = 10 and kyu = 9 in Japanese). 109’s main and largest store is for women, but there is a smaller section for men’s clothes as well. Center Gai has many shops ranging from the everyday fashions to a little bit of hip-hop and urban wear. If you continue up Center Gai you will come across Tokyu Hands. This large shop is a mix of already made goods and do it yourself. The Shibuya one is 7 floors of discovery, so take your time and enjoy! After Tokyu Hands a trip to Tower Records is in order. While most music has gone digital and record shops are almost extinct in the states, this place keeps on going. You could pick up some rare vinyl, never before released CD’s in the states of your favorite artist, and some cool t-shirts (but are you shopping for yourself of souvenir shopping?). Shibuya doesn’t stop there or disappoint, so keep on trucking around and you’ll dig deeper into what really makes Shibuya, well Shibuya. Use the Yamanote line exiting at Shibuya station.
SHINJUKU and IKEBUKURO
The last larger stations to check out and explore are Shinjuku and Ikebukuro. At Shinjuku station you will find Lumine, Odakyu, and Keio department stores. At Ikebukuro you will find Seibu, Loft, and Parco. The same applies to these stations as well; you could do all your shopping inside, never stepping foot outside. But I suggest you do. There are other large department stores and smaller shops around and you’ll never know what you will find. Both stations are located on the Yamanote line.
A specialty shop I highly suggest while you are out shopping for your friends and loved ones is Village Vanguard. This store really does have it all; from cool watches, crazy things for apartments and houses, awesome books, and edible products. Village Vanguard stores are not just in one location, and sometimes they are buried inside larger department stores.
If you have done so much running around and forgot to buy something for your boss or family member, but have found yourself at Narita airport, don’t worry! Narita is like one big shopping mall as well. There are plenty of souvenir shops on the outside of security; however there are more on the inside and all are duty free. I suggest picking up some Tokyo bananas to take back to the states, just don’t eat them all yourself before you get on the plane.
The best part of Japan is that anything you take back to your friends is really a souvenir, because they can’t just drive down the street and get it themselves, but I suggest you grab something that will be treasured by them for the rest of their lives, and that can be found almost anywhere in Tokyo’s gift shops! And while this list is short and could never encompass all of the small things to buy and the many other stations that offer gift shops, make a plan to come back soon! You could literally spend the rest of your life just shopping here in Tokyo! Yoroshiku onegaishimasu!